What Is Elder Law?

Elder law is an area of law that encompasses any legal issue facing the elderly.  It is often associated with estate planning but can involve much broader social, economic and health related difficulties facing aging Americans. Some of the concerns that become more important to us as we grow older and may require more careful planning include:

  • estate planning
  • planning for a long term medical care requirement including Medicaid planning
  • planning for incapacitation with the use of durable powers of attorney and health care proxies
  • issues requiring guardianships and conservatorships
  • elder abuse and other issues involving nursing homes or skilled nursing facilities
  • SSI, SSDI and other government benefit programs
  • special needs trusts

As the elderly population grows each year, so will the issues facing these individuals requiring a comprehensive estate plan that addresses long term care needs.  Often times, planning  must take into account strategies involving financial planning, estate planning, and other asset protection techniques.  Other times ancillary issues involving home health care, skilled nursing facilities, long term care insurance and disability benefits must be addressed.  Elder law attorneys, geriatric or nurse case managers, financial planners and professional well versed in benefits planning are often involved to ensure all needs are met.  Advanced planning can help to minimize the problems and stress associated with these issues.

Elder Advisory Group Offers Free Resource Guide For Seniors

Senior Resource Center of Worcester County is now offering a free resource guide to Seniors in the Worcester County area.  Senior Resource Center of Worcester County (SRCWC) is a full-service elder advisory group assisting Seniors and their families in the areas of financial guidance, asset protection and care coordination.  SRCWC offers solutions in identifying and accessing options for care coordination and assists in comprehensive lifetime care planning.  For your free resource guide, see the SRC Worcester website or call 508.421.6766.

What If I Die Without A Will?

When discussing estate planning, I often hear the remark “I don’t need a Will”.  Many think that they don’t have a large enough estate, or that everything will automatically pass to their spouse.  That is not always the case.

If you die without a Will, Massachusetts law will control how your property will be distributed.  After payment of debts, expenses, administration and funeral costs, your property will be distributed as follows:

  • If the deceased leaves kindred but no children, the surviving spouse will get the first $200,000, plus one-half of the remaining personal and real property.  The balance will go to the kindred.
  • If the deceased leaves children, the surviving spouse will get one-half of the real and personal property and the balance will go to the children.
  • If the deceased leaves children but no spouse, all real and personal property will be distributed to the children.
  • If the deceased dies with no children or kindred, the surviving spouse will take all real and personal property.
  • If the deceased leaves no spouse, children or kindred, the estate passes to the Commonwealth.

Unless you have a valid Will at death, the State will determine exactly who receives your property.  Having a Will ensures that you, not the State, choose who receives your property.